Arlington Police Using Sports to Connect to Teens, Coaches Call Program “Life Changing”

When Friday night rolls around, wherever the Martin High School football team goes, so does Brian Jones.

He's at every home game, away game and playoff game. More than an average fan, he's personally invested in the team.

"At the games, I'm more of a cheerleader on the sidelines," said Jones. "Getting the guys ready to go, getting them pumped up, just being that encouraging force and being there if they got any questions."

That's why the Warriors are personally invested in him as well.

“Just to know that someone takes the time out of their day to come and be with us and pump it up with us, it feels great," said Juma Otoviano, a junior at Martin High School who plays running back for the Warriors.

When he's not with the team, Jones works as a detective for the Arlington Police Department.

A little over a year ago, one of his supervisors approached him about a new mentoring program the department was launching called "Coach 5-0," which would pair individual officers with sports teams at all six Arlington Independent School District high schools.

The program was created in response to the 2015 murder of Martin High School football player Carl Wilson, who was shot and killed during a fight outside of school.

"The purpose of the program is to build relationships with AISD student athletes and help improve their social and emotional well being," said Jones.

Jones, who grew up playing football, thought it sounded worthwhile. So he agreed to get involved.

"Football reaches all walks of like and all lines of work," said Jones. So that's why I enjoy it. It's a way for us to build relationships with the kids."

He's been with the Warriors ever since.

"He's never missed a Monday lift," said Warriors head coach Bob Wager. "He's never missed a Friday game. He's gone into the homes of some of the kids that we have in our program that are at risk. He's taken it to a whole different level."

Wager says because Jones is a police officer, he's able to affect the players in ways he and his coaching staff would never be able to. He calls Coach 5-0 a model program for all communities.

"Most of what I see on the news today is the problem," said Wager. "Rarely do I see the solution. And this is a solution. And I think it's a blueprint for every high school and community in America to follow. It's been that impactful."

"If [high school students] have a good contact with a police officer, that goes a long way," said Jones. "That's how you change perception. That's how you change the climate of the nation: one contact at a time."

And that's why you'll continue to see him on the sidelines, supporting his team.

Coach 5-0 is now in its second year and has branched out to other sports including volleyball and cross country. More than 30 Arlington Police officers participate in the program.

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